Before lockdown, I always avoided spending too much time in my own company. Too much time to think can sometimes get overwhelming. I consider myself an extrovert; however, the preconceived notion is that extroverts are quite loud and outgoing. That’s not always the case. The best way I’ve heard it explained is ‘Extroverts get their energy from being around people, whereas introverts need time alone to recharge’. By that definition, I am definitely an extrovert.
One thing I had to adapt to quickly during lockdown was learning to spend a considerable amount of time alone. Pre-lockdown I worked in Leeds City Centre, at least a couple of nights a week after work my friends and I would go out for drinks and have a good natter. By the time I got home, it was bedtime, and I was ready for another day surrounded by people. So, it was quite a shock to the system when all that just suddenly stopped.
My first thought was ‘how is this going to affect my mental health’. Overthinking is a curse, and if I have too much time on my hands, my thoughts can spiral into my own little rabbit hole and take me to some dark places. I had to think of things to keep busy, and in the summer, it wasn’t too bad as I would just go for a walk after work. To my utter amazement, spending time alone wasn’t as bad as I feared.
What I have found is you can get too used to your own company, and I found myself hibernating as the days got shorter and I couldn’t be bothered talking to anyone, bringing a whole new meaning to ‘self-isolation’. Even when we were allowed to meet people for walks, I found myself wanting to go alone and get some ‘me time’ to recharge. That’s when I feared I was crossing over into introvert land.
In all honesty, it’s probably more of a motivational problem, when you are doing the same thing every day, staring at the same walls for hours on end; it saps the energy and motivation to do anything. Having said that, walking alone can be very relaxing, being able to go at your own pace and not worry that you look like a windswept mess.
Despite being able to cope ok with the last lockdown, this one has been pretty rough. With it only being a month, I didn’t think much of it, but when the words ‘tier 3’ started looming I suddenly felt like there was no end in sight. I think it’s fair to say that last week I had a big wobble and I was struggling to keep a lid on my frustration. I just had such an overwhelming feeling of loneliness, like I was trapped. I haven’t seen my family for a while and my sister had just had a baby, made me feel like I was missing out on so much.
After finishing work, late nights mean it’s harder to get motivated to go outside and head for a walk. Not to mention it’s a bit creepy around here at night as there is a lot of woodland. Leeds did go into tier 3 and I was pretty upset as I knew there were still months of this ahead. I couldn’t concentrate on work at all, which is why I decided to take some holidays this week. It made a big difference to my mood just knowing I wasn’t facing another entire day home alone.
I guess lockdown has been difficult for a lot of people in many different ways, and I don’t feel like it is getting any easier. However, what I’ve learned is having something to look forward to, like a day or two off work can make a huge difference to your mood. What lockdown has taught me is that I can survive in my own company, but that people are also a big part of my life.
So, in conclusion, I don’t think lockdown has turned me into an introvert. Not just yet anyway, but it has made me realise that when all this is over, I probably do need more ‘me time’ than I did before.
If you are interested in if you are an introvert/extrovert I found the 16 personalities quiz quite fun and scarily accurate!